This year during Lent, Central Church is working with Adam Hamilton’s excellent new study, “The Way”, a wonderful, six-week exploration of what it means to be a Christian. This week, the lesson is called “Sinners, Outcasts, and the Poor”and includes a review of Jesus’ ministry in Samaria. Here are a few quick thoughts from Hamilton’s study for this week:
Jesus routinely fed, healed, and ministered to the poor and those in need in all its forms. When he ministered to the rich, he called them to compassion and concern for the poor and those in need. It was not a suggestion. It was not optional. It was part of life in the Kingdom.
Jesus cared about the underdog, the mistreated, the downtrodden. If we are going to be his disciples and walk in his footsteps, we must do the same. Christians have always understood that part of our work is to be the hands and feet of Christ in caring for the poor.
Few of us succeed in being as open to others as Jesus was. We can’t flip a switch and move from prejudice to the kind of genuine openness that Jesus displayed, but we can and must grow in that direction. Thus, we recognize the gift that God has given us, namely the sanctifying grace that enables us, prejudiced sinners, to grow incrementally toward Christ-likeness in all that we are and all that we do. Ultimately, we are all as undesirable as the woman at the well in John 4, yet Christ offers us, as he offered her, life abundant and everlasting as we seek to grow and become more like him in every way.
Feeding and caring for those in our community is a long-standing and continuing outreach ministry of Central Church. Every week, we serve hot meals at lunch on Tuesday and dinner of Friday, and once a month we offer a community breakfast, all to anyone who comes through our doors, without regard to need and without cost.
Last year, more than 3,900 meals were served. Most of those receiving these meals do not attend any Church, so we also look for opportunities to feed spiritually as well as providing bodily nourishment. Some of those efforts are informal, like chatting with the folks as they eat or fellowship afterwards. Other efforts involve more structured studies and counseling.
All of those efforts reflect our recognition that we are surrounded by so much need. We can comprehend neither God’s graciousness to us nor the needs of those around us, but we know that those in need are our sisters and brothers, for we have but a common parent.
We pray that God would make each of us ever mindful of our responsibility to those who have less, to those who are forgotten and neglected, and to those we do not even know, and that God would help us to use the strengths, compassion, and love that He has given us to provide for them in every way we can since He endlessly provides for us.